American doctor frees many Vietnamese from tumors in short visit

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Dr McKay McKinnon (right) and doctors at Ho Chi Minh City's FV Hospital removing a face tumor from Le Hoang Em on July 31. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

American plastic surgeon McKay McKinnon helped remove multiple tumors from a 4-year-old on Thursday, his third tumor operation in Ho Chi Minh City in as many days.

The doctor and others from Ho Chi Minh City Children's Hospital No.2 removed around 1.5 kilograms of tumors from Dang Thanh Binh, who was found to suffer from dysplasia the unusual development of body parts including the total absense of such parts.

Binh was brought to the hospital from the nearby Long An Province with large and small tumors all over his body, making him unable to lie down normally.

He weighed 17 kilograms but tumors accounted for one third of that.

The boy is now free of all the large tumors on his hips, back and buttocks.

Dr. Truong Quang Dinh, deputy director of the hospital, said the boy is stable after a more than 4-hour operation and is receiving intensive care.

The hospital's doctors will perform a second operation three months later to remove small tumors from his body, Dinh said.

McKinnon, who had come to Vietnam January last year to remove a 90-kilogram tumor from the leg of Nguyen Duy Hai of Lam Dong, bubble-like lumps on a woman from the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang, and a 2-kg tumor from the face of a woman from Hai's province, did not have a day break during his visit to Vietnam this time.

And he worked for free, just like last year.

After helping with the little boy, he on Friday, which was his last day in Vietnam, he revisited the Lam Dong woman Kieu Thi My Dung, 24, in the city's leading hospital Cho Ray to perform follow-up surgeries after 18 months.

He removed the small remaining tumors and performed some cosmetics techniques to give Dung back her normal face.

On July 31, he also removed all fluid from Hai's tumor position at FV (France-Vietnam) private hospital in the city, which sponsored Hai's surgery last year.

The doctor on July 30 and 31 helped with two face tumor cases at the hospital, each taking him around ten hours.

He and local experts removed a 500-gram tumor which had covered half of the face of Nguyen Hoang Thien An, 18, of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province neighboring the city.

An was born normal developed a small tumor over her right eye when she turned seven months old.

The tumor grew rapidly, deforming her nose, lips, and eyes.

Her family could not afford treatment until 2007, but the tumor came back after the first surgery, the same for the second.

An had sat for the entrance exams into two colleges in mid-July.

Her surgery was followed a day later by another similar case on Le Hoang Em, 31, from the Mekong Delta's Dong Thap Province.

McKinnon and FV doctors managed to remove 95 percent of the tumor that started the size of a pimple on his face when he was born and grew to cover half of his face.

The US doctor said Em's tumor was complicated as it was a blood-filled mass and that there were scars from previous surgeries. He received one surgery at age one and another one in 2005, but the tumor came back.

A doctor on the team said the operation was 90 percent successful, but he did not guarantee that the tumor would not pop up again.

One day before the surgery, Em said, "I'm so nervous."

"I hope doctors can take the tumor out so I can be handsome," he said, laughing with his deformed lips.

Em will receive a skin graft from his thigh.

McKinnon arrived in Vietnam July 22, working at Vinmec International Hospital and Vietnam-Germany Hospital in Hanoi, where he removed a life-threatening tumor that had been deforming the face of a 15-year-old boy for five years and invading his skull.

He came to Ho Chi Minh City July 29.

He said in a Lao Dong (Labor) report that he was tired standing long hours for the surgeries, but that was needed.

He said he was coming to Vietnam as people needed him, that their suffering with physical pains and abnormal appearance for many years had motivated him to come.

He has set it his mission to come back for more such cases, said the doctor, who rarely talked about himself or his family, according to his Vietnamese colleagues.

Dr. McKinnon also had all his operations filmed so that Vietnamese doctors can look over them later, and also to share to experts around the world.

His visit was arranged and sponsored by Canadian charity Virtual Medical Miracle Network, Vovicare charity run by ethnic Vietnamese living in Australia, American nonprofit VinaCapital Foundation that runs health and education projects for Vietnamese children and youth, and Detech science and technology development company.

The doctors involved also worked for free.

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